The Art of Upcycling

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2011-04-27 18.09.07Upcycling is “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value,” says Wikipedia.  Where recycling converts plastic bottles into microfiber jackets, upcycling turns newsprint into notebooks, or broken skateboards into hip, colorful benches. For the smartest elucidation of the difference I’ve run across, read this post on Intercon.

Trazzlers’ Turning Trash into Visionary Art is a fun tour of “the mind-boggling things people make with junk.”  From an oceanside pipe organ made of cemetery detrius to the tire, bottle, can and scrap metal-composed Earthships of Taos, the article celebrates extraordinary eventualities that come about when trash falls into the hands of manic humans with vision.

I found the post, Fabulous Furniture Made of Unusual Upcycled Objects on the sharp-minded culture-sifter BrainPickings, the blog committed to “curating eclectic interestingness from culture’s collective brain.” If the idea of a coffin couch gives you the creeps, how ’bout one made through a marriage of old-style leather car seats and vintage refrigerators?

Recently, we were introduced to the work of independent artist Esteban Bojorquez who “[collects] and [reconstructs] the discarded refuse of our throwaway society” into dynamic, tactile delights. Bojorquez’ studio is a brilliant fun house chock-a-block with cheerful, burnished castoffs carefully conjoined into visually pleasing, balanced compositions.  (Watch for a future studio visit.)

Alien Skull, by Esteban Bojorquez

The piece that hooked my interest was “Alien skull:” a metal doppleganger of that overworked Western icon, The Cow Skull. His guitars made of 5 gallon gas cans and other found materials dazzle with wit and whimsical appeal. Bojorquez’ work seemed a perfect match for Changing Gallery’s current venue, the old Palace Grocery Store, near the heart of downtown Santa Fe, so we were thrilled when he consented to a show. If you’re in town on April 16th, come see Bojorquez transform the Palace into, in his words, “an environmental installation, a mercantile of the bizarre and unusual, incorporating [his] assemblage art and creating new products in the spirit of dadaism and mad humor.”

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The art of Esteban Bojorquez was featured on CNN’s My City, My Secret.  Professional Skateboarder Terry Kennedy shared his favorite haunts in the San Fernando Valley, including a trip to Cal State Northridge art museum. Watch the video here.

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